Pregnancy is an incredible time, that’s for certain. Still, it causes your body to go through a ton of changes – some you expect, some you don’t. For example, many women wonder whether or not it’s safe to exercise while pregnant. Or whether there are restrictions to the types of exercises they should be doing.
If you ask another pregnant woman, a personal trainer or any of many other people in your life, the odds are that they’ll recommend that you wear a heart rate monitor. This is especially common now that there are so many wearable tracker devices on the market.
Most pregnancies allow for a large number of physical activities, within reason. For instance, if you’ve always been a runner, you can still do some running. Just pay close attention to your body and you may want to scale things back as you progress through your pregnancy. There is, after all, a big difference between running for enjoyment and fitness, and running a marathon or sprinting as hard as you possibly can.
If you are having a multiple pregnancy, you’re likely considered to be in a much more “high risk” category. This will mean that while you can still remain active – and likely should for much of your pregnancy unless told to do otherwise – your activities will be heavily restricted.
But why is it that everyone is always telling you to monitor your heart rate? What is it that your heart rate can tell you while you’re pregnant that you didn’t really need to know before? The truth is that there hasn’t actually been all that much study regarding workout heart rates among pregnant women.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) used to recommend that pregnant women keep their heart rates below 140 beats per minute, but removed that recommendation in 1994. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidelines in 2008 involving physical activity among pregnant women. Within it was a recommendation that pregnant women keep up active healthy lifestyles. The type of workout they recommend is moderate intensity aerobic activity that reflects your fitness level. About 150 minutes of that activity is recommended per week. Heart rate recommendations are not mentioned.
When it all comes down to it, most doctors currently say that heart rate simply isn’t an accurate enough measure of exertion among pregnancy. As the body is undergoing so many physical changes in order to provide the baby with support, the average fitness tracker simply won’t offer the kind of feedback you want. While the readings may be accurate, they might not be suggesting the same thing as they did before you were pregnant.